Made in Germany
Visiting Magura

Magura develops, manufactures, assembles, and distributes its brakes in Bad Urach. This rare configuration lured us to the Swabian Jura to Magura’s headquarters. During a tour through the plant, it became impressively clear that Made in Germany only works with savvy.

Magura Production Line Hülben
Tradition, expertise, and above all, the courage to be different. With these ingredients, Magura produces its competitive brakes in large-scale series in Germany.

Main building, annex, new construction, outbuildings on the opposite side of the street, and the former residence of the Magenwirth family. If you’re looking for the entrance to Magura’s headquarters, you’ll need a good sense of direction. Once you find it, you’ll be greeted in the reception area by a metallic likeness of Gustav Magenwirth.

Gazing into the metal-cast eyes of the founder, it’s clear: This company has a storied past. But what the effigy of Gustav Magenwirth, who passed away in 1931, does not reveal: Magura has not just revolutionized the mountain bike sport once. Magura was a technical trailblazer in the 90s with the first hydraulic rim and disc brakes, setting the pace for the industry. Today, they aim to show us, in Bad Urach, how a family-operated company from the Swabian Jura survives in the global shark tank of the bicycle industry.

Magura Factory Bad Urach
The 130-year history is also reflected at the location in Bad Urach. In front of the former residence of the Magenwirth family lies a complex housing the departments of Marketing, Sales, Service, and R&D.
Gustav Magenwirth
He is the namesake for the first hydraulic disc brake on a mountain bike. Gustav Magenwirth founded the company in 1893 at the age of 27. The metal portrait at the entrance of the main building is a reminder of the founder's drive and pioneering spirit.

Facts about Magura

  • The founding year: 1893
  • Staff
  • Locations: Bad Urach (HQ), Hülben, Hengen (all GER), Taichung (ASIA, production), Illinois (USA, distribution)
  • Bicycle, motorcycle, automotive supplier, plastic manufacturing.
  • Feature: develops, manufactures, and distributes products from its location in Germany
  • Milestones: Hydraulic rim brake pioneer for bikes, first hydraulic disc brakes for bikes, Carbotecture development, ABS system for bicycles, brake force distribution for cargo bikes, fully integrated cockpit for bikes (MCi)

Magura is blazing its own trail in the value creation chain.

To understand what sets Magura apart, one must be familiar with the global value chains in the bicycle industry. Typically, even the most prestigious bike companies follow a uniform template. Development, marketing, and distribution are conducted in close proximity to markets in Europe or the USA, while production and often assembly of products occur in Asia. There are few standards that have been agreed upon in the cycling world, but this business model is one of them. However, cross-industry supply shortages during the COVID-19 crisis have laid bare the complexity of these traditional value chains.

Magura Brake Manufacturing
Magura defies market norms by manufacturing and assembling the bulk of its brakes in Germany. This feat is achieved through a blend of expert manufacturing knowledge and cutting-edge processes as seen here at the production facility in Hülben.
Loic Bruni World Champion Jersey
World champions like downhill ace Loïc Bruni and trick wizard Danny MacAskill shred with Magura's German-engineered stoppers. In Bad Urach, they not only know how to craft top-notch brakes but also how to market them effectively.
Magura Advertisement
The brand has always dared to push the envelope with their communication. Eye-catching billboards, clever ads, and strikingly yellow brakes define their outward messaging.

Magura designs, manufactures, and assembles its brakes in Germany.

Götz Braun, Head of Corporate Marketing at Magura, just chuckles when the topic of production location is brought up:

For decades, we’ve been doing what many companies in the bike industry have been trying to intensify since COVID-19.

The bulk of Magura products are not just designed and distributed from Bad Urach. Particularly, the brake levers and small internal parts are manufactured on the Swabian Jura and assembled into a complete brake system. The sites in Bad Urach, the plastic technology center in Hülben located 6 kilometers away, and the nearby production plant in Hengen cover the majority of the value chain for a Magura brake.

If over 45% of the value chain is in Germany, one could claim “Made in Germany.” Magura could do that but prefers to be understated. The caliper and the rotors come from Asia. This isn’t concealed. “To avoid processes of justification, we put designed and engineered in Germany on our packaging,” Götz Braun is straightforward. However, the know-how in manufacturing and a slightly unconventional choice of materials allows breaking away from the industry’s usual paths and to also produce in Germany. In doing so, Magura stays true to its tradition.

Magura Manufacturing Plant in the 20th Century
Long before the invention of the mountain bike, Magura was already mass-producing brake and clutch levers for motorcycles.
Magura Straight-pull
Technical drawings from the archive depict a clutch lever with straight-pull action. This invention was a breakthrough for Magura, as it significantly reduced the incidence of broken Bowden cables on motorcycles.
Magura Archive
Some companies buff up their image with elaborate retro campaigns. Magura doesn't need to. The archive in the attic impressively demonstrates how far back the Swabians' history goes.

Crafty and unconventional for over 130 years

The metal image in the entrance hinted at it, and the dusty archives in the attic confirm it. The history of Magura is extensive. To be precise: 130 years extensive. When Gustav Magenwirth founded the company in 1893, mountain bikes were not even a twinkle in the eye of the cycling world. Yet, the very first product by Magenwirth was akin to the current lineup of Magura brakes. The company made a name for itself in the 19th century with hydraulic pumps.

But the enterprising Gustav Magenwirth didn’t take long to expand the company’s portfolio. The invention of the straight-pull for throttle, clutch, and brake levers on motorcycles in the early 20th century was so revolutionary that this component remains present in the company’s logo to this day. The archives clearly show where the early focus of the company was. Motorcyclists since then have had no more troubles with snapped cables, and Magura began mass production for entire model series. The motorcycle manufacturer BMW has trusted products from the Ermstal of the Alb for over 100 years.

Magura Fuel Gauge VW Beetle
The fuel gauge in the VW Beetle was manufactured by Magura during the economic miracle. Every week, a railroad car left the factory headed for Wolfsburg.
Gustav M brake
Still legendary to this day. The Magura Gustav M was the first mass-produced hydraulic disc brake for mountain bikes. Following the triumph of the HS 33 rim brake, these stoppers were Magura's second major coup in the development of the mountain bike scene.

Under female leadership through the post-war period

It was unconventional, but in the post-war era, Magura, under the leadership of Martha Munz-Magenwirth, helped fuel the economic miracle. With a woman at the helm, Bad Urach produced fuel gauges for the Beetle, the symbol of the economic miracle, by the trainload. Today, one can only speculate what it meant to lead a company as a woman while the rest of the business world and politics were dominated by cigar-smoking men.

And it is this unconventional yet reliable nature that still defines Magura to this day. Reportedly, Martha Munz-Magenwirth, well into her 80s, turned off the lights in the company buildings at the end of each day. Magura remains a family-owned operation, unafraid to stand up to the competition with unconventional approaches.

Detlev Glaser Magura
Detlev Glaser doesn't just run the plastic manufacturing plant in Hülben. Anyone who walks the floors with him will notice: He's a missionary for modern high-performance plastics.

The strength of Magura lies in their expertise in plastics manufacturing.

Magura continues to manufacture high-quality plastic components for the automotive industry amongst other clients. Mr. Glaser, who manages the Hülben production plant, estimates that roughly 50% of their plastic injection molding capacity is occupied by third-party orders. Magura uses the remaining capacity to produce their own brake levers.

As Glaser walks through the impressive facility, he casually picks up items from various bins. Here, spacer rings for automatic transmissions, there, charging sockets for electric vehicles, and over here— “please don’t touch, these are still hot”—the levers for their proprietary HS brakes. Listening to him as he tours the plant, it becomes evident: This man is not your typical plant manager. This man is a missionary for plastics technology.

Many think of yogurt cups when they hear about plastic. But what we’re doing here goes way beyond cheap packaging materials. We manufacture complex components from high-performance polymers.

Glaser delves into processes, fires up machines for demonstration, and shares tales of how he personally tested the Carbotecture material, from which the brake levers are made, as horseshoes for his horses. “Feel free to check out the horseshoe made from Carbotecture. To me, this is a clear distinction from a yogurt cup,” Glaser emphasizes with fervor.

Carbotecture granulate
From this plastic granulate, Magura manufactures, among other things, the master cylinders of its mountain bike brakes.
Magura Production
The transformation from granulate to finished component is complex, but among other factors, it's crucial for maintaining competitive manufacturing in Germany.

Plastic Technology – Magura's Key to Competitive Manufacturing in Germany

Magura’s MT disc brakes are known as excellent stoppers among mountain bikers. The company boasts sponsorship with some of the top athletes in the gravity scene. Danny MacAskill, Loic Bruni, and Fabio Wibmer are part of the Swabian brand’s marketing strategy. And from an objective standpoint, it can be said: Those who ride downhill at high speeds, for extended periods, or with substantial weight and wish to decelerate with pinpoint accuracy will find Magura’s four-piston brake system a wise choice.

Anyone who checks out the brakes in popular online shops will notice that they are priced at a similar level to the competition. Sky-high prices and long delivery times, as one might expect from German manufacturing, don’t apply to Magura. One key to this surely lies in the long product life cycle of their brakes. The MT models have been on the market for over 12 years without any apparent changes. Yet, during this time, there have been 51 revision cycles where the product has been improved in detail, confirms the product manager in an interview.

The second key is the processing capabilities that plastic offers. At the factory in Hülben, the brake masters come out of the machine ready for assembly. A comparable metal part would need to go through numerous additional production steps after pressure die-casting before all surfaces reach the assembly-ready state.

Once you know how to handle it, Carbotecture material can be processed significantly more efficiently than metal without any technical compromises.

, admits Detlef Glaser. Fewer manufacturing steps and lower energy and transportation costs make it feasible to produce Magura brake levers in Germany.

Manufacturing Tool Brake Lever
When you know how, functional components come out of such tools. Production Manager Glaser grins: "We know how!"
Magura HS Brake Pad Shoe
The combination of expertise and optimized manufacturing processes makes the production at the Magura factories in Hülben and Hengen efficient and thus competitive.

How Individual Components Become Magura Brakes

We’ve seen the headquarters and the plastics manufacturing processes, but the final assembly of the individual components into a complete brake is still to come. Therefore, we head from Hülben to Hengen. Only those who don a blue lab coat are allowed to tour the assembly line, as lint is the archenemy of hydraulics. The blue coat protects the workspace from contamination by visitors. Should a speck of lint fall from a sweater, it will be pushed to the floor by a slight positive pressure, which is regularly cleaned.

Before reaching the small intermediate storage area ahead of the assembly line, all components are packed into standard-compliant boxes. Magura is a supplier to the automotive industry and certified as such. Even the bicycle division is subject to the regulations of this certification. And foreign packaging materials have no place in such certified assembly lines. The question about a large central warehouse has only a brief answer. “We operate on a Kanban system.” In short: components are supplied in the exact quantities needed, just in time. There is no large, central main warehouse with abundant stockpiles.

Small material carts supply each assembly line with what it needs for production. We follow one such cart and witness the perfect symbiosis of man and machine. Special machines perform accurately defined steps to assemble individual parts into brakes of consistent quality. Here, the metal calipers and hoses are paired with Carbotecture levers from Hülben. During the automatic filling and leak testing of the system, there is such confidence in the process that a 5-year guarantee is offered, ensuring that Magura brakes will not leak oil.

Magura Tool Kit
The mountain biking spirit thrives in the manufacturing workshops of Hülben and Hägen.
Magura MT brake caliper
The metal brake calipers of the Magura brakes are manufactured in Asia by Magura. At the Hengen plant, they are mated with the German-made brake levers and filled with Royal Blood brake fluid.
Magura MT<em>C</em> Brake Levers
The components manufactured at the factory in Hülben are assembled into the complete brake lever in Hengen. Even on the most modern assembly lines, manual labor is indispensable.

Embracing Tradition into the Future

After a day at the heart of Magura, it becomes clear: Magura is significantly more modern than one would expect from a company with a 130-year-long tradition. Here in Bad Urach, they have preserved the ability to produce products in series that are close to market needs, even throughout the peak of globalization.

Instead of taking the easy route and swiftly following the trend, throughout its impressive company history, it has often chosen to remain unconventional. Today, Magura, with its production in Germany and the capacity to rapidly respond to new circumstances, is a trendsetter. And this strength is evident not just in the manufacturing of products, but in the products themselves.

Magura HS Brakes Manufacturing
Before the brakes are ready to be mounted and leave the state-of-the-art facility, a significant amount of work is required.

These Innovations are Coming Out of Magura

The ABS system for E-Bikes, developed in partnership with Bosch, is just one example of the Swabians’ innovative spirit. CBS, which stands for brake force distribution technology, is applied primarily to cargo bikes or utility bicycles to distribute braking force between the front and rear wheels.

The integrated cockpit MCI also shows that, in Bad Urach, there is a willingness to chart a unique course even in 2023. Instead of merely adapting their brakes to the trends in internal routing, they have designed a master cylinder for braking systems that fully disappears into the handlebar. In terms of integration, this system represents the next level and, to a certain extent, a technical lead over the typically larger competition.

Magura MCi Bike
The MCi System (Magura Cockpit Integration) impressively demonstrates that in Bad Urach, they're willing to take it to the next level.
Magura Integrated Cockpit
Instead of making the brake lines disappear as invisibly as possible into the handlebars, Magura doesn't let them exit the bars at all.
Magura MCI
The brake lever controls the handlebar-integrated hydraulics for the braking system through a cut-out in the handlebar. As early as 2023, initial models of this braking system were sold. In 2024, according to Magura, major bike manufacturers are banking on this innovative system.

All mountain bikes with Magura braking systems at a glance

Magura Bike Magura Bike
Brakes are not just safety-critical components, but they can also spark heated debates among riders. Individual preferences meet sheer braking power here. For many riders, the manufacturing process of their bike is becoming increasingly important. It’s often not just about how the bike rides, but also about where its components are made. Both in terms of braking power and the demand for regional production, Magura stands out. That’s why you’ll find a list of all bikes equipped with Magura brake systems right from the factory under this link. And of course, we offer the same service for E-Mountainbikes as well. We’ll soon publish an additional interview with Fabian Auch, the great-grandson of the company’s founder Gustav Magenwirth. Subscribe to the newsletter in the footer to be notified as soon as the interview goes live.

About the author

Ludwig

... hat mehr als 100.000 Kilometer im Sattel von über 1000 unterschiedlichen Mountainbikes verbracht. Die Quintessenz aus vielen Stunden auf dem Trail: Mountainbikes sind geil, wenn sie zu den persönlichen Vorlieben passen! Mit dieser Erkenntnis hat er bike-test.com gegründet, um Bikern zu helfen, ein ganz persönliches Traumbike zu finden.

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